Sociology 340, Fall 2014 Assignment
SHORT ANSWER: Remember to write in complete sentences.
1. Describe the basic model of status attainment, elaborated by Blau, Duncan and Tyree and expanded by Sewell, Haller, and Portes. Specifically, what is the relationship that the authors are trying to explain? What variable do Blau, et al., argue is most important for explaining the relationship? Name an additional factor that is identified as important by Sewell, et al.
2. Describe the general relationship between income and health as outlined by Mullahy, et al. Is this relationship the same or different for people with higher and lower incomes?
3. Drawing on the readings for class, identify two types of non-economic outcomes (other than health) that have been associated with inequality and describe the measure of inequality with which they have been associated (other than wealth).
4. What is the difference between absolute and relative mobility? In “Social Mobility in Europe,” Breen describes change over time in rates of absolute and relative mobility. According to his argument, what are the general trends in each of these rates?
5. Drawing on the literature regarding social capital, define the following two concepts: structural holes and weak ties. For each concept, describe why scholars have argued that these concepts can determine social outcomes.
6. Describe the method used by Janny Scott in the article “Life at the Top in America Isn’t Just Better, It’s Longer.” Then describe at least two factors that she argues contribute to better, longer lives for those at the “top.”
7. According to Stiglitz, what is one characteristic of how governments responded to globalization in countries where globalization benefited the greatest number? What is one characteristic of the response to globalization in countries where it increased inequality?
8. Identify the two main classes in capitalist society according to Marx. What defines each of these classes?
9. According to Weber, society is composed of three orders. What are those orders? For one of these orders, describe the social group that corresponds with it.
10. What is the gradational approach to the study of inequality? Describe at least three different gradational measures of inequality that have been used by authors we read for class. (You do not need to identify the particular authors with which the measures are associated.)
ESSAY: Take a minute to outline your argument before you begin writing. You will not be graded on spelling, but highly ungrammatical writing will result in fewer points. Remember to write in complete sentences.
1. Describe Annette Lareau’s argument (in “Unequal Childhoods”) regarding child-rearing practices in the United States. First lay out Lareau’s argument. Specifically, what labels does she use to describe the two methods of child-rearing that she argues vary by class? Describe the three dimensions on which children of different classes are raised differently. Next, using yourself or a close friend describe how you (or your friend) was raised using ethnographic details similar to those used by Laureau, i.e., observations of interactions between your friend and his or her parents, and other relevant others. You must DIRECTLY compare these ethnographic details with Lareau’s argument. That is, identify the class to which your chosen subject belongs. Then describe whether the way that your subject was raised has the features of language use, social connections, and time use. Based on this description, do you find Lareau’s argument convincing? Why or why not?
2. The President of the World Bank, has appointed you to a commission to study global inequality. Write a report to the President that includes the following: Drawing on at least two readings, describe the debate regarding the relationship between globalization and inequality. Be sure to make the distinction between “between-country” and “within- country” inequality. Indicate which position in the debate you find most compelling and why. If you find more than one position compelling, discuss how they may be complementary. Then, make a choice between a) recommending two policies that the World Bank could promote that would be consistent with at least one reading, or b) recommend that the World Bank not suggest pursue a policy based on at least one reading.
3. In the fall of 2011, the protests that began with the Occupy Wall Street movement drew on the language of social inequality to develop the phrase “We are the 99 percent.” Write an essay in which you link this phrase to the scholarly literature regarding inequality. First, describe how this phrase relates back to readings from the beginning of the course on increased income inequality in the United States. (You will want to draw on insights from one or more of the following authors: Rose, Saez, and Krueger.) Then describe how these increases in inequality may be expected to relate to at least two of the following domains: health, culture, parenting, and technology. Now answer the following two questions: How might movement proponents draw on this research regarding increased inequality and the consequences of inequality? How might movement critics respond drawing on the same or different research?
4. In Privilege, Shamus Khan argues that elite boarding schools, like St. Paul’s, play an important role in constructing the elite by transmitting cultural capital. Write an essay in which you expand this argument beyond boarding schools to other types of high schools in the United States. First, describe Khan’s argument regarding cultural capital. Give at least three examples of how such capital is conveyed at St. Paul’s. Then drawing on class
discussion, describe the three types of high schools that one can find in a community like ours. Choose one of these high schools. Use specific examples to describe how this high school conveys cultural capital.
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